Sean Penn, Armani to Host Haiti Fundraiser at Cannes

Sean Penn and Petra Nemcova
Sean Penn and model Petra Nemcova prepare to take questions at the Cannes Film Festival. They are fundraising for Haiti at a gala dinner. Photographer: Farah Nayeri/Bloomberg.

Actor Sean Penn and fashion designer Giorgio Armani will host a fundraising dinner for victims of Haiti’s earthquake at the Cannes Film Festival tonight.

The January 2010 quake killed 300,000 people and left tens of thousands of others wounded and homeless. Penn was among personalities who flew over to offer emergency assistance, and he then founded a charity called the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, or J/P HRO.

Proceeds will go to that charity and to two others active in Haiti: Artists for Peace and Justice, founded by Canadian writer-director Paul Haggis, and Happy Hearts Fund, founded by the Czech model Petra Nemcova.

The French festival is allowing the gala to take place in a hall of its main building. Armani will present it.

“This is a place that, within the next five years, can show such incredible potential for turnaround,” Penn said at a Cannes news conference, sitting next to Nemcova and Haggis. “If you don’t get involved with it, boy are you going to miss something.”

Penn said there were still 450,000 people displaced by the earthquake, down from 1.8 million, in a place only “an hour and a half from Miami.” Camps lacked electricity, water or plumbing, and the rainy season, which just started, spelled “horror.”

Penn, who wore a black sweater and suit over a white shirt, said Haiti, as “a showplace of green technologies,” could be a “very tangible success story” and no longer be defined as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, a hotbed of narcotrafficking and a place that generated illegal migration.

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